So, when the new talent tree updates were released, we also got some new information about how Symbiosis will work. You can read about the mechanic details here, if you haven’t already.
Lets take a look more specifically at the examples of abilities they gave us.
Here are some examples of spells gained through Symbiosis. The spells shared focus on utility, cooldowns, and survival. (Adding Fireball to a Moonkin’s rotation sounds cool on paper, but wouldn’t actually be fun in the long run.)
Balance: Chains of Ice, Mirror Image, Mass Dispel
Feral: Feign Death (Play Dead!), Frost Nova, Soul Swap
Guardian: Ice Trap, Fear Ward, Consecration
Restoration: Ice Block, Hand of Sacrifice, Leap of Faith
Holy Paladin: Rebirth
Arms/Fury Warrior: Enrage
Enhancement/Elemental Shaman: Solar Beam
What does this mean? Well, these are a mix of baseline & specialization abilities. They are all mostly cooldowns & utility things. Moonkin for PvE would be able to pick up mirror image from mages to get a damage increasing cooldown relevant to their role in a raid. For PvP, maybe they want mass dispel or chains of ice. Remember that your specialization will have 10 possible abilities to choose from (one from each of the 10 classes). I’m personally really excited to get mirror image for my moonkin in PvE, and I’m going to start recruiting more mages to make sure I can have mirror images in my raid in MoP, since we only have one mage right now.
This is going to be really nice for druids if the allow symbiosis to potentially plug holes in our toolsets (ie. soulswap for feral druid bleeds, iceblock for resto PvP survivability, etc).
The Dark Intent Problem: As part of Symbiosis, you give a spell to the other class you linked with. This is likely going to be the most problematic part of the entire talent. If you were to give the other person things that changed the amount of DPS or healing they do in a raid situation, that could actually cause problems with class balancing (see: dark intent). In my raids right now, I usually complain when I’m moonkin DPS and I don’t get my dark intent, because that impacts how much DPS I can do in my raid. They are actually changing how dark intent works in Mists of Pandaria because of how it caused balancing problems for the caster classes.
However, Blizzard somehow didn’t learn from their mistake with Dark Intent, and are implementing symbiosis to give a whole ability to the class you cast it on. This problem is potentially worse than dark intent because the ability quite dramatically changes depending on who you cast it on. It may also limit how your team lets you use it. For example, in a PvE situation, you may benefit the most when you give it to a warlock, but your raid could require you to give it to a fury warrior, instead, because that benefits the raid the most (maybe your warlock doesn’t really need Rejuv in return). In PvP, giving dash to your hunter is going to be more beneficial than giving battle res to your paladin, although you may benefit more from the ability you would get from the paladin than the hunter. While Symbiosis as a whole is really awesome, it is going to cause all sorts of balancing issues that we need to be thinking about before the system goes live. It might just be better if the druid got an ability but didn’t give anything to their target, even though I think it would be fun for druids to have a super overpowered ability that everyone in your raid wanted.
I think that letting druids borrow abilities from other classes is perfectly fine, and is really neat. However, giving abilities to the other classes in return may cause problems and is something we should really think about as the development process goes on.